Wednesday, September 12, 2018

State Rights was About Federalism, not Slavery

I just finished reading From Founding Fathers to Fire-Eaters by James Rutledge Roesch. It’s a new book (2018) on an old subject, but it’s an excellent, entertaining, and both an enjoyable and easy read considering the complexity of the subject and the brilliant minds of the Southern political theorists whose works Mr. Roesch has compiled and edited into a succinct outline of the state rights doctrine of the Old South. [Take that in conjunction with Alcorn’s comment in his 1870 inaugural speech about how Southerners should quit political theorizing and jump in and wallow in the trough with the Yankees.]

The doctrine did not begin with the abolitionists or the Missouri Compromise or even the Constitutional Convention, and it was never about slavery. As Mr. Roesch shows to any reasonably intelligent person with only a modicum of knowledge regarding this nation’s history, the doctrine was there at the beginning, inherent in the colonial charters, the oldest of which was Virginia’s. I highly recommend anyone interested in truth regarding the state rights doctrine vis-a-vis the post-republic egalitarian/centralization doctrine get the book, devour it, and share it.

The nationalists (centralizers) have been part of our government from the start, much like the serpent was integral to the Garden of Eden. They were the Tories who reluctantly joined the Patriot cause after the short-sighted British Parliament refused to stop interfering with home rule, undermining their influence at home. [This is me talking here. Mr. Roesch is kinder to all the founders.] Embracing the cause of independence, these self-aggrandizers embarked on the quest to build a new economic empire. To realize their goal, they needed a supreme, centralized government and a national “democracy,” served by said government.

Patriots to the republic managed to forestall them for the bulk of the next century, first with the Articles of Confederation, then with federalism, hallmarked by the state rights doctrine woven into the Constitution. Nevertheless, with the ratification of said Constitution, the states had sown the seeds of their demise. The destruction of the Southern Confederacy ended the federal republic and gave the ghosts of those old Tories their long-coveted crown. Hopefully they celebrated their victory in…, well, never mind where.

Today, some neo-cons still give lip service to the republic, or the Lincolnites’ perverse take on it, but with the Left picking up their banner of egalitarianism/pure democracy and exploding it, the neo-cons should be rethinking their position [Lincoln’s on the chopping block, too, and it’s not us Southerners putting him there]. Instead, they appease. Truth is the nationalists and the Left are both statists. Both need all references to state rights (true federalism) gone.

The nationalists have hidden behind the holy crusade to end slavery to justify their egregious violations of the Constitution since halfway through the “Civil War.” [They had other unifying causes before the abolitionists gave them slavery]. The farther time moves from those long-ago events, the more clouded the historical memory of everyday folk, and lack of education on the subject of both that War and the founding of the republic hastens the encroaching shadows. That is by design. There is no difference in the goal of modern Democrats and Republicans in regards to the republic.

Today’s attacks on the South not only go unchallenged by “so-called” conservatives, who by default the South supports, but are actually echoed by these same people, who mollify their treachery by stating something to the effect that we need to keep the history, but annotate it to remember our mistakes (sins). Pittance, I guess, is what these curs are trying to foster. Problem is slavery isn’t the operative mistake here, and what really needs to be remembered is being buried deeper and deeper beneath their obfuscation. The gutless wonders fear the PC crowd and believe they are protecting themselves from the Left’s onslaught by tossing such bones. Believers in the republic, or perhaps those who simply respect its memory, whether Southern or not, have no champion. Granted the republic is dead. The majority of Americans rejected it long ago. Today most don’t even know what it was, its having been perverted by self-aggrandizing politicians into something it wasn’t. But we Southerners being told to piss on our ancestors’ graves, all too often now by other Southerners, in order to further the ambitions of one statist group over those of another, is going too far.

One can pinpoint a number of places in our antebellum history highlighting the states’ and the peoples’ rejection of our federal republic. The states’ failure to support Kentucky's and Virginia's resolutions against Adams’ Alien and Sedition Acts and later South Carolina during the Nullification Crisis; the application of the Constitution to the states by the Supreme court under Marshall; and the Northern states’ answering Lincoln’s call for troops to invade the South. The Missouri Crisis was a biggie. That’s when the South should have left the Union. It was clear then that sectional interests were simply too conflicting.

Reconstruction itself abounds with violations, but those violations may not have been so pervasive had the Northern populace not given Congress to the Radicals in the fall of 1866. But what did it matter at that point? The South was in shambles, and Northerners as a block had already shown how little they cared about our founders’ republic. They had, in fact, rejected it. They wanted a centralized Union, and they created one by force of arms. Today the old republic is only a memory being twisted into something evil, the final step before the statists feel comfortable in eradicating it altogether.

We need to keep that history untarnished, y’all. It’s what our Confederate ancestors fought for. In another time and another place, Patriots will need a foundation on which to build again. 

Thanks for reading,

Monday, August 27, 2018

The Inauguration of Mississippi’s Republican Administration

This post is number fifty-two in a historical series discussing Mississippi’s Whig/Republican governor and senator, James Alcorn, following the War Between the States and continues the “saga” resulting from the Democratic victory over the Republican “reconstruction” constitution framed during the Black & Tan Convention in the winter/spring of 1868. That Republican defeat resulted in a second election—Washington’s Radicals were simply not going to take Mississippians’ rejection of their agenda as the answer. As planned, the election of a Radical administration in Mississippi followed. This post opens in Mississippi during the late fall of 1869 immediately following the Radical victory and continues through Alcorn’s inaugural address as governor. For earlier posts in this Alcorn-driven series, see the sidebar.
On 20 December, the Radical Republican ticket victorious in the fall election, Adelbert Ames, commander of the fourth military district and still provisional governor, issued an order announcing ratification of the progressive constitution and directed 11 January 1870 as the date for the new legislature to meet in Jackson. Further, by the authority invested in him by President Grant, (who received his authority from George Boutwell of Massachusetts—yes, I’m being what is known in the vernacular as a smart ass), Ames directed Alcorn to assume the role of provisional governor prior to his actual inauguration.

Alcorn refused. He informed Ames that he’d been elected governor by the people of Mississippi and he’d take his seat on inauguration day, [not under the shadow of military tyranny—my words, not his, but that was his point].

As governor, James Lusk Alcorn became the leader, for the first time in his political career, of a majority party with a new state constitution that gave him more power than any Mississippi chief executive who had held power before him. Given that state civil elections were not scheduled until the fall, he inherited from the military dictator who preceded him the right to appoint normally elected civil servants, to be approved by the state senate. 

Evidence supports Alcorn’s political descent from Federalist (in spirit if not in fact), to National Republican, to Whig. He came to Mississippi as a National Republican, became a Whig under the guidance of Henry Clay, and resorted to embracing the Northern offshoot of that defunct group out of pragmatic necessity. Personally, I don’t think he was ever really a Republican, but I think he was quick to embrace those strands of the Federalist wing of the old National Republicans when it served his purpose. Alcorn considered Jefferson Davis a weak “tyrant.” One might surmise from this how he would conduct his governorship.

During his campaign, Alcorn had attacked the civil-military government in Mississippi (because of its divided loyalty) for the rise in crime. I take this to mean he accused the civil powers (Southern residents) to turning a blind eye whenever their “side” committed (political) “crimes.” I say this, other than the opposite, because between 1867-1869, the period of the “Reconstruction Acts” and martial law, he had wanted the military governor given full reign over civil government, and he told his wife Amelia that if the Democrats won the legislature, he would advise Congress to continue martial law. Yeah, he was a believer in “democracy” all right. Of course, he couldn’t work with the Democrats—turned out he couldn’t work with the Republicans either for long. The Carpetbag Republicans had their agenda, the Scalawags theirs, the Democrats (who represented the majority of tax-paying Mississippians) theirs and then there was Alcorn who had his. Alcorn was focused on Congressional money, which he’d seen Congress bestow on the Northern states for decades, to rebuild Mississippi. He’d also watched the state’s Democrats, who stood on the principle that selling one’s soul to the central government undermined the rights of the states and their people to govern themselves, reject such funds his entire public life in Mississippi. Alcorn needed power to get that money, and now he thought he had it. The Carpetbaggers, of course, were in the state to line their pockets and the more money in the kitty, the better.

R. C. Powers, ex-United States Army, and by all accounts an honest man, had been elected Alcorn’s lieutenant governor; James Lynch, a Northern Negro minister, secretary of state; Henry Musgrove, another ex-member of the Grand Army of the “Union”, auditor; W. H. Vasser, a pre-war Mississippian, state treasurer; another Mississippian, Joshua A. Morris, attorney general; and Henry R. Pease, ex-U.S.A., superintendent of education.

Alcorn’s inaugural speech identified the South’s secession as failed treason against the Constitution, and he hailed the magnificent mercy of the Federal government in their handling of the failed rebellion—his way of giving thanks, I guess, for their ensuring his governorship instead of executing him given his bringing the house down on the 7th of January 1861 when he voted to take Mississippi out of the Union. His “statesmanship” of course, was predicated on the concept that the only time treason isn’t treason is when the traitors win. Very pragmatic. So, why didn’t he just fall on his sword? Like I said, the man was pragmatic. Alcorn placed the central government, now in the hands of traitors of the first rank, ahead of the Constitution, the republic, and the South. He intended not only to survive, but to thrive. One thing for certain can be said to his credit, he intended Mississippi to thrive right along with him. He was wrong, not only about his own people, whose attitude might have been a little better if he hadn’t been so delusional about the central government/Congress from which he assumed he and the state would receive succor. He actually thought the South was going to get its share of the pie now that Republicans were in control down here. 

Lillian Pereyra says Alcorn “...was one of the few Southerners on whom the reality of the preceding events had made an impression...” Really? Does she think the reality of preceding events had not impressed all Southerners? I think what she meant was he was one of the few Southerners on whom those events had made the “right” impression. You can interpret that to mean, in my opinion, Pereyra was either an idealist who in contemporary times embraced the concept of one Leviathan United State or a realist who accepted the fact the republic was dead and gone, time to move on and share in un-republican greed. I don’t know what she really believed, but I do think Alcorn suffered from a false impression of whom he was dealing with in the North, or those with whom he was wheeling and dealing in Washington had led him down the garden path. [Of course, if one were to hear Ames and the other Radicals in Mississippi tell it today, they might well say it was Alcorn who led those with whom he was dealing in Washington down the garden path.]

Maybe Alcorn realized he was taking a gamble and thought the potential gains worth the risk. I think the majority of old leaders in the South—those who remained, at leastknew exactly what they were up against and weren’t willing to stroll down the path or gamble with the Republicans because they knew the deck was stacked and the South was not going to benefit in any form or fashion. Any plum awarded the South would serve the North or some Republican sycophant tenfold. So, call Southerners stupid and stubborn if you want. Stubborn I’ll buy, stupid no. Those old Southrons were right about the South’s fate. And, no, kowtowing to those traitors up North wouldn’t have made a difference. They had a war to pay off, long-postponed public works to restart, and coffers to refill to make it all work. Rebuilding the South was not part of their agenda. Needless to say, the biggest fault found with Alcorn’s speech was his calling the South’s secession “treason.”

In addition to his despicable “confession” regarding secession, Alcorn lectured the people on the responsibility of government (this to a people who long believed that the least government was the best government). Now, said he, given the new order, the state had a duty to look out for the welfare of all people rather than the heads of a few chosen families. [Thats a mercantilist theme, not Southern Democrat!] Because of this greater responsibility, taxation would be much greater, but application of those taxes would tend to enrich the state through industrial colleges and public schools because the highest production of wealth follows what’s created by combining muscle and intelligence. You know, the “intelligentsia” that builds factories and industry to provide jobs for the rest of us peons—get off the farm and live in a slum for a pittance. Just where does that produced wealth end up? Factory work may or may not provide security. At least the farm boy would no longer be at the mercy of the weather, but he would be at the mercy of new workers if he demanded increased wages—labor unions backed by the government hadn’t evolved yet; in fact, the situation was just the opposite—industrialists backed by the government using what was for all intents and purposes “slave” labor, except their workers received a pittance, which was the qualifier between free and slave labor. 

To put it succinctly, Alcorn was going to make Mississippi like the North, and Mississippians were going to pay higher taxes to live in Utopia. Theoretically, at least, all that industrialization would increase income/profits which leads naturally to increased taxation, managed by increased bureaucracy, which meant more jobs. The real cost to all this government control? Individual liberty, what our ancestors had fought for roughly a century earlier and Southerners had struggled to hold onto less than a decade before.

In the interest of economy, Alcorn stated in his speech that he was not in favor of large expenditures on public works. That part had been a bone to the upper classes who paid the majority of the taxes (property). Plus, his plan was to use Federal aid to pay for any public improvements he did enact. That’s the way the North did it. And it should be noted that in this part of his speech, he invoked the memory of Henry Clay...and love of the “Union.” He also let it be known that he planned to inactivate the militia, but would call it out if lawlessness broke out, which would result in heavier taxation.

I’ve done a little research, but I’m still not sure about the status of the militia at that time. All Southern militias had been deactivated in March 1867 with martial law, and I don’t know what authority the provisional governors had to reactivate them, nor, with the army present, if any would have. Alcorn’s statement, however, seems to  indicate there was an active militia at the time of his inauguration.
Alcorn stated there would be equality at the ballot box, jury box, and in the distribution of public office to coloreds and poor whites, but softened his egalitarian stance by stating that wealth, intelligence, and social position have always been and trusted always would be great powers in the state.

Then he contrasted the more “practical” accomplishments of the North—their canals, harbors, railroads with the intellectual political theorizing in the South, stating Southerners must abandon it for the “wiser” statesmanship which devotes itself to the fosterage of material interests. Now, read that again.

And there it is, folks, in a nutshell. Think about Alcorn’s words above and Pereyra’s assumption he understood the reality of what had just happened. This is the reason for the war and you can combine those thoughts with hundreds of others, but what comes readily to mind are Sherman’s words referring to state-rights “nonsense” to his subordinate over in Alabama. Here, now, Alcorn is telling his people to forget the Constitution and wallow in the greed/power that can only be fostered through centralization. Of course, it would be those with money and political influence who would always have benefited. Yeoman farmers were savvy enough to know who would provide the muscle for this new “statesmanship.” The Negro, looking to Alcorn for leadership and drunk on his political value, didn’t realize (and may not have cared) where this was leading. Blacks and poor whites were being lumped together at the bottom of the totem pole as cheap labor. Bones in the form of work, wages, and education were being tossed their way. Everyone would be free and happy, taxed to pay for their often “unsolicited” benefits...or for benefits demanded by and for someone else. 
With every government benefit provided, a piece of individual liberty is lost.
Alcorn considered himself the ideal man to lead Mississippi from the abyss and back into the Union. Whether he was the ideal man or not is somewhat irrelevant. That abyss is Alcorn’s concept. The South had already been pushed into the abyss. He was the one willing to contaminate himself, pulling Mississippi up and over the edge by breaching the gap between invading Radicals and native conservatives.

I’ll continue with the actual Alcorn administration next time.

Thanks for reading,


Thursday, May 31, 2018

Mississippi’s Readmission to the Union, With Conditions

This post is number fifty-one in a historical series discussing Mississippi’s Whig/Republican governor and senator, James Alcorn, following the War Between the States and continues the “saga” resulting from the Democratic victory over the Republican “reconstruction” constitution framed during the Black & Tan Convention in the winter/spring of 1868. With proscription conditions in the new constitution modified, the Republicans triumphed in the second election and the new puppet legislature enacted the final requirements for readmission. This post picks up the story in Washington during the winter of 1870. For earlier posts in this Alcorn-driven series, see the sidebar.

The legislature having completed its requirements as laid down by Congress, it retired to await the blessings of Congress, from which the new puppet Republican legislature expected the state’s speedy admission to the Union equal to that of the original state. In reality, true “equality” vis-à-vis the central government was dead for all the states—federalism itself having been butchered along with the Confederacy.

To emphasize this point: In conjunction with Mississippi’s readmission, Benjamin Butler of Massachusetts introduced a bill making it a qualification that any state officer swear under oath never to have born arms against the United States, unless that encumbrance had already been removed. It was the same old “iron-clad oath” requirement. Recall we’d been through this with Butler before. This new iteration referred to holding office, sans the voting restriction, but the stipulation already existed in the Fourteenth Amendment. But the bill also added the condition that the recalcitrant states could never amend their constitutions to deprive a citizen of the vote, right to hold office, or attend public schools. Such amendments to their constitutions of course, new, old, or amended, are the prerogatives of the individual states themselves. And more telling, why should such conditions be relegated to the “recalcitrant” states? And the condition that any state not be able to alter its constitution matter for what “noble” cause the restraint was perpetrated, is (was I should say) anathema to our federal system. Except where specifically outlined in the Constitution, the central government had no say in state matters. The restrictions in Butler’s “recalcitrant” state bill would shortly deprive Mississippi, Virginia, and Texas of their equality with the original members of the Union, and the denial of a state’s right to change its organic laws is contrary to federalism. Kentucky’s James Beck, still fighting, offered a counter proposal, “unconditional readmission.” The Butler Bill passed the House 136-56.

The debate in the Senate on Butler’s bill continued for two weeks at which point moderate Republican John Sherman of Ohio, who was no friend of the South (yes, he is little Billy’s brother) said on February 17th that he was going to start messing with other pieces of legislation if there wasn’t movement on the bill (don’t know which side he was taking). The senate judiciary committee, chaired by Lyman Trumbull of Illinois, another individual who was no friend of the South, found that Mississippi met all prior requirements for readmission and recommended unconditional readmission. The Senate rejected those findings, then passed the House (Butler’s) bill, in conjunction with Mississippi’s readmission, and sent it to the president. Grant signed it on the 23 February 1870.

This is the final aftermath of the battle that had been fought and won by the people of Mississippi in the summer of 1868.  Grant himself recommended separate votes on the proscription clauses and the constitution. As a result, in the fall of 1869 proscription was defeated and the progressive constitution passed. Now, only months later, Congress has made a de facto repudiation of the Mississippi taxpayer’s will and its token Republican president has participated in the treachery. I do not know Alcorn’s take on this treachery, but he is on record for telling his wife Amelia prior to the gubernatorial election in the fall of 1869, that if the Democrats won (Dent), he’d recommend Congress continue martial law in the state. Looking at the votes in both houses of Congress, it’s clear the bill was a collusion to give Mississippi’s usurping Republicans what the people of the state had denied them.

Writing in 1901, James Garner in Reconstruction in Mississippi states that after five years with no representation in Washington, and three of those years under martial law, Mississippi was readmitted to the Union under “conditions” that impaired her sovereignty. Congress, in assuming the power to deprive the state of the right to change its governing constitution in certain particulars, arrogated to itself sovereign powers, and had it been able to enforce its commands, the principle of the federal system would have been destroyed.

[H]ad it been able to enforce its commands...?

Garner was writing at a time when Republican hegemony over the federal government had been cracked, a time when folks who still believed in the Constitution and understood the basic tenants of federalism it governed. Sadly, those conditions do not exist today, and the underlying weaknesses of federalism framed during Reconstruction, the usurpation of state rights by a tyrannical central government, is today characterized by a worthless Congress and an overreaching executive branch, which Congress itself has been strengthening for decades with powerful, unconstitutional agencies to the detriment of us all. To us true believers in the founders’ republic, federal law does not trump state law. Federal law only trumps state law where the federal government has been delegated supreme power by the states, and those instances are limited. But that means nothing when the states fail to react, just like they did nothing in 1861 when Lincoln opted to make war on the Southern states after they legally seceded from a hostile “Union.” Well, okay, those Northern states did do something. They supported him against sister states to the detriment not only of the South, but to the republic. With the forced ratification of the 14th and 15th Amendments, the principle of the federal system framed by our founders was destroyed.

After President Grant signed the bill readmitting Mississippi to the Union (with the conditions attached), Henry Wilson, the junior senator from Massachusetts, presented the credentials of Hiram Revels to the Senate. Revels’ credentials had been signed by Brevet Major General and Provisional Governor Adelbert Ames. A point rose as to the appropriateness of Ames’ signing Revels’ credentials—ha, wait until they get to Ames’—on two counts: Military officer certification was not on the list of evidence required by law, and Ames was not the true executive, Alcorn was. But remember, Alcorn couldn’t execute anymore than the legislature could legislate until after the bill admitting the state into the Union was signed by the president (by which time Ames and Revels were already in Washington. Perhaps they should have waited, huh? Got their credentials in order, then caught a later train?). I conclude the Senators figured Alcorn could have signed them and should have. Instead the arrogant Ames had done the deed.

They hemmed and hawed over Revels’ credentials for two days, then one of them proposed to just let the Senate vote to seat him, which it proceeded to do, 48-8. Popular sentiment brands those Democrats who opposed Revels’ seating as racists and the Republicans who supported him as brave reformers determined to eliminate the special burdens placed on the Negro. Hogwash. The Republicans were just as racist, and their constituents more malevolent in their opposition to the Negro than a Southern Democrat whose racism was condescending, yes, but comparatively benevolent. The Republicans sacrificed their racial prejudices to permanently break the link between the government framed in 1787 and the nationalist one they were codifying into law as of 1870. Whether the Democrats were racist, benevolent, malevolent, or whatever, is irrelevant. Their unsuccessful struggle was an effort to halt the creation of a tyrannical central government and its ancillary destruction of republican principles. The law/arguments used to seat Revels in 1870 were unconstitutional.  The race card was not needed to make their point. The Republicans, however, did need it to make theirs.

Now, as to those platitudes of poetic justice made in the case of a Negro taking Jeff Davis’ seat in the U. S. Senate. Davis’ physical chair had long before been taken by a Kansas senator who refused to give it up. (That actual, physical chair, of course, is another irrelevancy, but was considered symbolic by the idealists of the day). And as for the story that had been bouncing around since Davis resigned his seat in the Senate in 1861 in which Davis supposedly told Pennsylvania Senator Simon Cameron that he’d probably be replaced by a Negro in a few years time, that story has also been turned on its ear and reiterated with it being a prescient Cameron informing Davis of that dire fate. It doesn’t matter which one said it.  It’s all faux “poetic justice.” The seat Revels filled was the one vacated in 1861 by Mississippi’s junior senator, Albert Brown. Ames took Davis’ seat, and personally, I think Revels would have made a much better fill.

When Ames presented his credentials to the Senate, signed by his own hand, the issue of his seating went to the judiciary committee. The committee reported back that Ames had gone to Mississippi under orders as a military officer, and he was not a citizen of the state. That report from its own judiciary committee was not sufficient for the Senate to simply say, “go home,” preferably to Maine.
[All those Republican senators were mad at Trumbull, anyway, for breaking ranks and not voting to convict Andrew Johnson at his impeachment trial.]

Seating Ames took weeks. His chief supporters in the Senate were Radical Republicans Oliver P. Morton (Indiana’s gubernatorial tyrant; now, Senator), George Boutwell (Massachusetts), and George Edmunds (Vermont), and moderate Republican John Sherman (Ohio). Ames’ primary opponents were Democrats Thomas Bayard (Delaware) and Allen Thurman (Ohio).

Again citing Garner, Ames’ acceptance of the Senate seat from Mississippi’s legislature, over which, as provisional governor, he wielded influence, was (at best) in poor taste. He owned no real property in the state and paid little or no taxes. He knew little of the state or its needs. He was a stranger to Mississippi and her people. He had no respect for their tastes, habits, and prejudices, and he admitted that had he failed to get his appointment to the Senate, he would not have made Mississippi his home.

And on that note, back in Jackson, the puppet legislature passed a joint resolution to Congress stating that Ames’ election had been regular and legal, so seat him. Given that, the Senate rejected 40-12 the judiciary committee’s report. This non-resident Ames not only represented Mississippi in the U.S. Senate, he would go on to do so as governor. Ames turned out to be a special emissary of the Negro race, and he later admitted that in leaving the military for a civil career he’d made the “fatal” error of his life.

No matter what else, by General Order 25 of 26 February 1870, the Fourth Military District ceased to exist. [Arkansas, the other state making up the Fourth Military District, had been readmitted to the Union in 1868, also under a puppet administration.]

Back to Mississippi, next time, and Alcorn’s inaugural speech, outlining his optimistic vision for the brand new United States, and the South’s finally getting its hand in the till.

In your dreams, Alcorn.

 Thanks for reading,


Saturday, February 3, 2018

They Gulped the Blood and Gobbled the Flesh...

A post in the “Skewing Southern History Series”

It’s been a while since I’ve posted, but I’d become strained doing too many things at once and finishing nothing, so last summer I took a hiatus from blogging. My historical research, however, has not suffered, only the dissemination of my findings, aside from comments and what I hope have been appropriate shares on Google Plus, Twitter, and to a lesser extent, Facebook. But as I’ve stated before, sometimes something crosses one’s path that cannot be left go. Such was a Pinterest prompt for my  “Confederacy” board on which I pin photos of Confederate soldiers, Southern memorials, and other such tidbits related to a short-lived sovereign nation to which I pay homage.

The prompt was a photo of an unidentified Confederate soldier in cavalry boots (which I would have naturally pinned). I clicked the photo and was taken to an All Things Interesting article published on 27 September 2017. The title of the article was “America’s Darkest Hour: 39 Haunting Photos of The Civil War.” Now I’m not real big on dead soldiers on the battle ground, even Yankee ones, which considering my loyalties might be considered a little more palatable...though certainly not much. All I wanted was the fella in cavalry boots. But one had to click to go somewhere else to see the photos, so I started reading the article instead. At the git-go, it appeared to be a bipartisan accounting of a terrible tragedy that happened a long time ago; in short, a quick overview to accompany the photos, an account one would write for a child or foreigner who’d just parachuted in here and knew nothing of our War Between the States [talk about fire bells clamoring in the night]. I’ve got a pretty good laywoman’s knowledge of events, so initially there was nothing in there I wasn’t aware of. Then, halfway through the article (it isn’t a long one) came something I was not familiar with. I quote:

“For four deadly years, the country endured not only its bloodiest and most vicious military conflict, but also some of its cruelest racial hatred. Adding to the already immense heap of skulls, Confederates used disease, starvation, exposure, and outright execution to kill hundreds of thousands of former slaves during the war, a figure not included in death toll estimates thanks to a deliberate lack of record keeping.”

Not “hundreds”, y’all, not even “thousands”, but hundreds of thousands. And exactly when did this “lack of evidence” proving the occurrence of genocide come to light? And speaking of creating fact from non-existent evidence, why didn’t the writer take the gruesome lie one step further and explain away the absence of hundreds of thousands of Negroid skulls? Allow me to demonstrate: “There’s no evidence of the holocaust dear gullible reader (the article’s readership) because the Confederates ate the murdered slaves.”

Ha, you see, I really can write compelling fiction! Yes siree, that’s the perfect sequel to this horror story being attributed to my Southern ancestors, and my embellishment makes so much sense. The Confederates were, after all, hungry. Shortages were rampant due to invasion and blockade, so they “gulped the blood and gobbled the flesh and greedily gorged on the lifeless corpse[s].”* And once they had eaten their fill, they boiled the fat for soap, then ground the skeletal mass into meal for bread and cake. That’s why today’s fine teams of modern investigative journalists, such as the writer of the dung defecated in the ATI article, can’t find where the bodies are buried.

Let’s break down the above paragraph further. Consider the line about “a deliberate lack of record keeping?” That alone should tell any reasonable reader how far the writer will go to insult his intelligence. Why, if one were to do such a thing, would the executioners make a record of it? It’s not as if the victims had property to account for; they were property. Maybe that explains it. The executioners were keeping the murders secret from the rightful owners who were off somewhere else fighting Yankees. Ya think? Duh. Consider, too, the time it would have taken away from the army’s defending against invaders. I wonder if the writer of the article has any idea how many Yankees were running around in the South between 1862-1865. Certainly enough to come across hundreds of thousands of murdered slaves. I wonder if he/she even knows Yankees invaded the South or where the war was fought? Besides, don’t you know [I’m being facetious here], few Southerners could read and write, so keeping a record would have been difficult.

But the underlying implications are more sinister than that. Note the use of the words “deliberate lack...” By referencing a perceived requirement for such a record, of which someone in a position of power would have made a conscious effort to forgo, the writer is implicating the Confederate government in a conspiracy to annihilate its Negro population. Where exactly is the writer of this article going with this?

Yes, well, I know, too.

Next, let’s look at the line “used disease, starvation, exposure, and outright execution....” That is blatant plagiarism of Southern charges of Federal excesses (national policy) against Southern civilians, black and white. That is precisely where the writer of the ATI article stole that line. Such policy is a component of total war and during the War Between the States was routinely carried out by Federal officers in command in the South as sanctioned by their civilian head, Secretary of War Edwin Stanton, and blessed by their sanctified leader Abraham Lincoln.

The charge against the Confederacy is, of course, false, and the proof (other than those yet-to-be-uncovered heaps up skulls) is evident by the simple fact that such horrendous deeds make no sense. There’s no record, not because of poor record keeping or pre-sanctioned omission, but because it didn’t happen. Why would Southerners who had, for two and a half centuries, lived intimately with the Negro: Slept with him, ate with him, nursed and been nursed by him, fought and died along side him for more than two centuries in our nation’s struggles leading up to the War Between the States suddenly start exterminating him?  I’m not talking about Negroes who fell behind enemy lines and ended up in the Federal army. They chose to take up arms as soldiers (or we could hope so, anyway) and were fair game like all soldiers taking up arms and invading the sovereign South.

The charge of premeditated extermination [and that’s what paragraph four of the ATI article is] is equally oxymoronic in light of the fallacious argument that the South seceded to preserve slavery..., then decided to exterminate its slaves? But wait! Maybe we’ve stumbled upon yet another point to ponder. Is the “all about slavery” narrative morphing into “it was all about removing the perceived inferior race from the United States?”

Sorry, folks, that exclusive “white-man’s-only nation” attitude was the battle cry of another group.

I’m not going to argue that the antebellum white Southerner wasn’t racist; he definitely was. But his racism was predominantly benevolent, and no matter how demeaning that benevolence, it falls well shy of atrocity. I say this, one, because Southerners are basically good people and, two, because that benevolence helped them justify the institution. It was the Northern attitude towards the Negro that was malevolent and that malevolence played out against the “contaminated” South and white Southerners, who had supposedly degenerated vis-à-vis their superior Northern counterparts after two hundred and fifty years of intimacy with the Negro race. In my opinion, and this is strictly my opinion, the greatest shame of the Southern Democrats and the modern Klan (not the original) is their self-aggrandizing embracing, then making truth of, a Yankee lie.

In light of the sordid tale of genocide masquerading as “fact” presented above, the rather slipshod description of Davis’ capture near the end of the article comes as no surprise.

I had never heard of All Things Interesting, but it has a substantial readership and is part of the online media, PBH Network. There are no by lines, attributions, or supporting references in the 27 September article. Whoever wrote the thing conducted only superficial research in slapping the piece together. They are unconcerned with the war, its causes, its repercussions, or the people involved. They are either convinced that all right-thinking Americans regard those who defended/still defend the Confederacy as either dead or to have seen the light and become “good” Americans, or they’re trying to convince the rest of us that’s the case. Extant defenders are nothing more than lunatics who support “proven” racist traitors and represent only a fringe of the Southern population.

Promulgation of such lies is what ATI counts on to grow its readership. That’s how propaganda works. The Left (assuming ATI isn’t financed by the Left) finds such ignorance a useful tool to achieve its agenda.  This is the legacy “neo-conservatives”, many in leadership positions across the South, have left us. A large number of Americans don’t know where this nation, or they themselves, came from. They look at America’s ante-bellum past as they do that of the Roman Republic: It was long ago, and there’s no one invested in it any longer. They feel right in saying and/or accepting whatever nonsense they “think they know,” packaging it as truth, and shouting it to the world if it furthers their agenda. These born-yesterday Americans derive from two different sources, new arrivals and the much more egregious multi-generationals who find validation in detaching themselves from ancestors who sacrificed their immortal souls, according to their progeny’s self-righteous interpretation of right and wrong, to give them what they have today. We in the South have long been blessed with a paucity of both. Disgracefully, the number among the latter is growing.

*Beowulf for those of you who have forgotten that classic example of old-English alliteration from high school.

Thanks for reading,

Monday, September 11, 2017

The Selection of Hiram Revels to the U. S. Senate

This post is number fifty in a historical series discussing Mississippi’s Whig/Republican governor and senator, James Alcorn, following the War Between the States and continues with the results of the fall 1869 victory of the Republican ticket headed by Alcorn and the Radical party. This post falls prior to the inauguration of the new governor, but subsequent to calling to order the new legislature by the interim military governor, Adelbert Ames.

As discussed in my last post, the ratification of the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments was (at the time) the last hurdle placed in front of Mississippi before she would be accepted back into the loving arms of the hate-filled Union. Until that blessing occurred, Mississippi could not participate in the legislative process, but there was one last duty she could and should perform prior to soliciting Congress for readmission. That was the selection of her U.S. Senators.

To quickly recap, Alcorn was elected to fill the full session beginning 4 March 1871, roughly one year in the future, and Adelbert Ames was elected to fill an unfinished term of four years, the seat vacant since the late winter of 1861. Still to be chosen was the individual who would fill the second seat vacant since that same secession winter. That term had less than 14 months left on it and was the seat Alcorn anticipated filling the following March. In the meantime, an interim Senator was needed to fill the chair. The story passed down is that the Negro legislators, whose people had been instrumental in the election of the majority Carpetbaggers and Scalawags now holding power in Mississippi, insisted a black man fill that seat. How many white “allies” they had among the Carpetbaggers and Scalawags (and their strongest allies would have been among the Carpetbaggers) is not known. Negro legislator John Roy Lynch representing Adams County in the house, states that the Republicans were in agreement on the selection of a black Senator, but the house journal casts doubt on that, because when the voting started there were a number of Carpetbag hopefuls. Moreover, the record implies that the black legislators weren’t even in agreement on who their choice for U. S. Senator would be. According to James Garner in Reconstruction in Mississippi the battle was between B.B. Eggleston and Hiram Revels, and for a brief blip on the radar screen in the middle of the voting, that was indeed the case, but that was as much fluke as fact.

Ignorant of Mississippi’s values, reckless of the burden placed on her taxpayer, and heedless of the long-term welfare of her people, neither Revels nor Eggleston were representative of a devastated state vying against a Congress that had anything but Mississippi’s interest at heart. I, myself, find poetic justice in Revels’ victory occurring over the likes of Eggleston (and a number of other Radicals). Self-serving righteousness aside (not Revels’, but the Radicals’), Senator Revels was well educated and capable even if neither representative of the state nor appreciative of the role of a U.S. Senator—a failing permeating many Republican Senators at the time, not counting those hell-bent to knowingly alter the republic overall.

Revels had joined Federal service in Baltimore at the outbreak of the war, and he had assisted in the organization of Negro troops. He came with the U. S. Army to Jackson in 1863 and aided in the formation there of the Freedman’s Bureau. In time he would become the first president of Alcorn College for Negroes, and he has the distinction of being the first Negro seated in the U.S. Senate.

The Mississippi senate’s selection of Alcorn and Ames for the U.S. Senate occurred on the 18th of January, 1870. The Mississippi senate, however, failed to make a selection for the short-term seat, nor did the house and as of the following day when senate and house went into joint session to elect the Mississippi Senators, Hiram Revels had not even been mentioned as a possible candidate (at least, in the official record). He, himself, voted for the Carpetbagger Alston Mygatt on the first ballot and on the second, the Scalawag Abel Alderson, an 1850 transplant from Maryland, who did not take part in the war and was not serving in the legislature at the time of his nomination.

The 19 January joint session readily confirmed J. L. Alcorn for the new term beginning in March 1871 (119 to 2, the lone votes against him going to W. L. Sharkey, the old-line Whig who had served as Mississippi’s provisional governor during the earliest days of Presidential Reconstruction and Adelbert Ames, the then provisional governor). On cue, Ames was confirmed for the longer unfinished term, 94 votes to Robert Lowry’s 24. Alcorn also got a vote here as did Horace Greeley, a facetious jab, no doubt, at the hostile editor of the New York Tribune’s having as much right to represent Mississippi in the U. S. Senate as did Adelbert Ames. Unfortunately, no record is made of who initiated the vote, but a Democrat is a solid bet.

The unfinished, short-term seat proved up for grabs, however, no one candidate having a majority in either branch of the legislature. From what I’m able to gather, the joint session combined the votes of both houses from the previous day’s separate sessions to form the baseline for the 19 January voting:

R. W. Flournoy, who you may recall from an earlier post as a man James Garner in Reconstruction in Mississippi described as one of the most Radical Republicans in the state, received 27 votes [he was not a member of the legislature]
The aforementioned Abel Alderson 21
B. B. Eggleston [not in the legislature] 19
State senator Alston Mygatt, a Carpetbagger representing Warren and Issaquena counties, 8
C. B. New [not a member of the legislature] 2
Alexander Warren, a Scalawag representing Madison county 1
T. W. Stringer, a Negro representing Warren and Issaquena counties in the senate 1
J. J. Spelman, a Negro representing Madison County in the Mississippi house 4
J. W. C. Watson, an old-line Whig who served as a senator in the Confederate Congress, now a Democrat not serving in the legislature, but who had proved a thorn in the side of the Republicans during the Black and Tan Convention 18 
 J. W. Vance [another non-member of the legislature, who had been nominated in the house the day before by Scalawag M. Campbell representing Desoto County and in the senate by F. H. Little representing Chickasaw and Monroe Counties. Vance was a favorite of Democrats and a number of (I think we can safely assume) moderate Scalawags] 19

I would like to expand here, if I may, on my reckless use of the term “safely assume.” I am making some effort here at home to identify all these legislators by party affiliation and faction. I had identified senator Little as a probable Carpetbagger, based on his voting, but the only thing I’m sure of at this point is that he was a Republican. His nomination of Vance for the U.S. Senate seat indicates he might very well have been a Scalawag. However, on the second round of voting for this seat, also on 19 January, he voted against Vance, casting his ballot for B.B. Eggleston—can’t get much more “Carpetbag” than that. Of course, when studying the legislative journals, one doesn’t see the behind-the-scenes maneuvering going on, just clear indications that something is amiss. And “what” senator Little really was remains a mystery for now (at least to me).

The field proved smaller for the first joint ballot, six candidates as opposed to ten. Clearly some wheeling and dealing had gone on. The leading Democratic candidate from Wednesday’s last ballot, Watson, was no longer in the running and Eggleston’s total had jumped by twenty votes and the Southern wing’s choice, J. W. Vance, by 12. The withdrawal of Watson from the running resulted in his 18 votes being divvied up primarily between J. W. Vance, Robert Lowry (Newt Knight’s nemesis, who would eventually become governor of the state), and Abel Alderson:

 R. W. Flournoy, 22
Abel Alderson, 23
B. B. Eggleston, 39

Flournoy, Alderson and Eggleston (the first two Scalawags, one radical, one moderate, and Eggleston, the Carpetbagger, were trading Negro and Carpetbagger votes at this point).

J. W. Vance, 31
Robert Lowry, 5
C. B. New, 1

Hiram Revels’ name finally appears on the second ballot in the joint session when he was nominated by Mr. W. H. Roane, a Carpetbagger representing Pike County in the Mississippi house. One Carpetbag and three Negro senators voted for him as did eighteen Negroes and eight Carpetbaggers in the house. He received no Scalawag or Democratic votes on this ballot.

Abel Anderson 15
B. B. Eggleston 19
R. W. Flournoy 11
Robert Lowry 2
Hiram Revels 30
J. J. Spelman 3
Stafford, [not a member of the legislature] 1
J. W. Vance, 39

As of this juncture, Vance had gained two Democratic senators who had voted for Robert Lowry and a Scalawag who now chose to abandon Eggleston (or decided Eggleston was a lost cause). The battle at this point became one between Revels and Vance vice Revels and Eggleston, because once Revels’ hat was in the ring, the Negroes abandoned Eggleston (except the gentleman senator Revels and representative J. J. Spelman from Madison County who had nominated Eggleston in the first place, and Charles Caldwell, the Negro senator from Hinds County, who remained loyal to Abel Anderson). Eggleston, Alderson, and Flournoy had received a significant number of Negro votes prior to Revels’ nomination. Eggleston lost 10 Negro votes to Revels in addition to 5 Carpetbaggers; Flournoy lost 7 Negroes to Revels; and Abel Alderson lost 2 Negroes and 2 Carpetbaggers.

By the third ballot, Flournoy, Stafford, the Negro Spelman, and Lowry are gone and numbers are shifting:

Abel Alderson 13
B. B. Eggleston 19
Hiram Revels 40
J. W. Vance 49

And by the fourth ballot the quest for the sixty-one required votes is really between only two men, the Scalawag nominee, J. W. Vance, and the Negro nominee, Hiram Revels:

Abel Alderson 8
B. B. Eggleston 18
Hiram Revels 43
J. W. Vance 50 (who received 2 Carpetbag votes, one from the Alderson camp and one, actually, from Revels’ camp).

At this point, the legislative body adjourned until Tuesday, 20 January 1870, and the next day, the Scalawag senator, J. H. Pierce representing Panola and Tallahatchie Counties, withdrew J. W. Vance’s name from the list of hopefuls, and on the sixth ballot, Hiram Revels received 81 votes, twenty more than needed to win election. But here are a couple of interesting things to ponder. The first deals with the withdrawal of John W. Vance’s name and the second is the re-dissemination of the votes once Vance’s name was removed.

What happened over night to compel the Scalawag senator Pierce to remove Vance’s name from the competition before the first vote on 20 January? Of the five Scalawags in the senate who had supported Vance without fail, four now cast their votes to Revels. The fifth, H. N. Ballard representing Desoto County, does not appear to have voted. All seven Democratic senators who had supported Vance (the senate total), cast their ballots to the wind as did his 22 Democratic supporters in the house. John Surratt (Lincoln assassination conspiracy) and John Smith (Pocahontas’ old flame) being among the nominees. To be fair, there were votes cast for good nominees such as J. Z. George, lawyer and future Mississippi supreme court justice prior to his election to the U. S. Senate in 1881 and W. S. Featherston, antebellum legislator and Confederate war hero who would remain active in politics in the fight against the Carpetbag administration and into Redemption. W. L. Sharkey even received a couple of votes, but my point here is that in the election for the short-term U.S. Senate seat, in January 1870, there was no further coordinated vote among this now rudderless group once Vance was removed from the field. Six of the 13 Scalawag representatives who had supported Vance in the house, threw in their lots with Revels, backing their senators, the remainder, less one, cast their votes for Abel Alderson.

So what happened? Why did the Scalawags (and it does appear that it was the senate Scalawags who “sold out” and suddenly withdrew the name of the leading contender right from under their nominally allied Democratic compatriots with whom they appeared in lockstep on their way to sending a Democrat to the U.S. Senate.  [Just can’t trust those Scalawags]. Ah, but was it the sell-out it appears? Vance’s name wasn’t the only one missing from that final vote—B. B. Eggleston’s was, too. Fourteen Carpetbaggers, 2 Negroes, and 1 Scalawag who had voted for the ex-Union general now cast their votes for Revels. With Revels’ already existing 43, that made 60 votes—not quite enough to win the seat. And the plot thickens.

John W. Vance (the leader on the night before the decision) was father to two Confederate veterans. He was a long-time lawyer and resident in Desoto County (the same county represented by Scalawag Senator Ballard who didn’t vote in the final poll), and on the 10th of May 1870, the Mississippi senate confirmed Alcorn’s appointment of J. W. Vance as judge on Mississippi’s Twelfth Circuit.

Here’s what I think happened. The Carpetbaggers, foiled by their Negro supporters, who were sticking by their guns regarding a Negro getting that senate seat, now accepted the fact that Eggleston, sheared of his Negro votes, would not win that seat. The Eggleston clique (there were always Carpetbaggers who opposed Eggleston just like there were those who supported Revels) capitulated and cast their lots with the Revels’ ascendancy. But even if all Eggleston’s votes shifted to Revels (and there was no guarantee of that), there were Carpetbaggers adamantly opposed to a Negro getting that seat. Add to that, the popular Scalawag Abel Anderson was still in the running. That meant Revels would still come up shy of the votes he needed to win. So after that final vote the evening of 19 January and adjournment, the pro-Vance moderate Scalawags approached the Radical camp and offered their Republican colleagues a deal. The Scalawags would withdraw Vance’s name and cast their support (or, at least enough support) to Revels, if the Radicals would support John W. Vance for judge on Mississippi’s Twelfth Circuit. I would guess that Alcorn would have been privy to the agreement. I for one can believe those moderate Senate Scalawags (and their Democratic allies who nevertheless refused to vote for Revels (nor were they needed at that point)) found more value in having their man as a judge on the Twelfth Circuit than they did in a lame-duck senator whose term would end in fourteen months. [And, of course, it could have been the other way around—the Radicals could have approached the Scalawags. I simply have my suspicions as to which group was the smarter of the two. Shoot, the Scalawags could have supported Vance all along hoping for an opportunity to make such a deal. I don’t know exactly how it happened, but there’s no doubt in my mind that it did happen in much this way]. The moderate Scalawags cut a deal with the Carpetbaggers, putting Revels in the U. S. Senate in return for placing Vance on the Twelfth Circuit—really not much of a sacrifice for Alcorn, who would have preferred a Southerner on the circuit anyway.  

One last aside. I had some initial trouble with my theory on the selection of Judge Vance for the Twelfth Circuit in that other Mississippi records place him on the Third Circuit (Adams, Claiborne, Franklin, and Jefferson Counties). It was a major glitch in that it simply made no sense for that particular man—critical to my theory—to be assigned to the Third Circuit. My J. W. Vance, the one leading the vote count on the evening of the 19th, came from Desoto County, and for the deal I proposed to work he had to have been appointed to the Twelfth Circuit. Sure enough, a review of the of 19 May 1870 Hernando Press confirmed the state senate had approved native son J. W. Vance for the Twelfth Circuit and stated specifically the Twelfth Circuit was comprised of Desoto, Panola, Sunflower, and Tallahatchie Counties. Yeah, you catch that? Panola and Tallahatchie Counties were represented by Senator J. H. Pierce, the same man who had withdrawn Vance’s name on the morning of the 20th of January. Why the other historical records have it wrong, I don’t know. Of course, it was probably a one-time error that kept repeating itself. Research is so much fun.

The seating of Hiram Revels in the U. S. Senate next time—along with all the other “conditions” for Mississippi’s reentry into the Union.

Thanks for reading,


Sunday, May 7, 2017

Mississippi’s Final Stretch for Reentry into a Union She Supposedly Never Left

This post is number forty-nine in a historical series discussing Mississippi’s Whig/Republican governor and senator, James Alcorn, following the War Between the States and continues the “saga” resulting from the Democratic victory over the Republican “reconstruction” constitution framed during the Black & Tan Convention in the winter/spring of 1868. That Republican defeat resulted in a second election—Washington’s Radicals were simply not going to take Mississippians’ rejection of their agenda as the answer. For earlier posts in this Alcorn-driven series, see the sidebar.

Upon ratification of the progressive constitution and election of state officers, Mississippi’s military governor, Adelbert Ames, ordered the new legislature to meet 11 January 1870. This was the first legislature to meet since the inauguration of martial law and Congressional Reconstruction in the spring of 1867. The Radical U.S. Congress made two more demands of the state before considering Mississippi for readmission to the “new nation,” those being ratification of the unconstitutional Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments. Once the legislature was assembled and organized, Ames, acting in his capacity of provisional governor, requested it consider passage of the two amendments, which forever altered the fundamental relationship between the central government and the states. The legislature not only considered the two amendments, it readily ratified them, but that had been the plan all along.

Much has been said of the abuses of “Negro Rule”during the course of these puppet governments set up during Reconstruction in the South, but as of 11 January 1870, Mississippi was not yet to that point. To be fair to the Negro, Negro Rule is a misnomer, because the people calling the shots were always white politicians aiding and abetting corruption in return for votes, both at election time and in the state house. The more accurate term, and one used routinely for the period, is Carpetbag Rule.

Of the 139 men making up the puppet legislature that passed the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments, only thirty-one were Negroes, mostly ex-slaves, many illiterate, and none with legislative experience or understanding of how legislatures operated. Most were ignorant of the history and the intent of the framers of the U. S. Constitution, which is why the Radicals in Congress ensured their citizenship, suffrage, and election to legislative positions. The Negroes’ case was not unlike that of European immigrants in Northern cities who joined Lincoln’s army to fight for “freedom” and democracy which could only be accomplished, by some obtuse reasoning, by a forced marriage between North and South. All were manipulated by a political system determined to pervert what the founders had created in 1787 and create something new.

Within the ranks of those thirty-one Negroes were very capable individuals, primarily black ministers, who were both well-educated and knowledgeable, yet still lacking legislative experience, but in lockstep with those whose goal it was to alter the Republic. Twelve such had been elected to the house, and three of Mississippi’s five Negro senators were ministers. It should be noted that black ministers dominated black leadership across the entire South. The Republican hierarchy reached the black voter through the black ministers.

The legislators representing the wealthiest counties in the state were now ex-slaves: one senator and three representatives from Warren County, the location of Vicksburg; two representatives and one senator from Hinds County, the location of the state capitol Jackson; two representatives and one senator from Adams County, the location of Natchez; two representatives and one senator from Washington County in Mississippi’s Yazoo-Mississippi Delta where Greenville is located; Lowndes County, site of Columbus, sent one senator and one representative; Noxubee County sent three Negro representatives to the state house; Holmes, Panola, and Wilkinson Counties had two Negro representatives each; and seventeen other counties sent one Negro each to Jackson to represent their interests. In addition to the black legislators, there were forty-nine Carpetbaggers, primarily ex-Union soldiers who were recent inhabitants of the state, twenty-five Scalawags composed in large part of ex-Whigs and ex-Confederates and home-grown opportunists who never, or no longer, saw eye-to-eye with the Democrats; four additional Republicans in the house, who I have yet to confirm as Carpetbagger or Scalawag*; and finally there were thirty Democrats made up of both New Departure adherents who had acquiesced to the new order and the Bourbons, the democrats of old (and probably some old-line Whigs) who remained true to the principles of the old republic: the Constitution, state rights, and home rule—you know, liberty. Not some lofty ideal of “freedom” dictated by those who felt qualified to define exactly what that abstract quality is within a controlled state, not “democracy” imposed and manipulated by centralized government, but liberty, a quality achieved only by the absence of as much government as possible and still guarantee the protection of property. A government limited by laws framed and controlled at the local level.  Needless to say, people who thought like the Bourbons were outnumbered in the recreated Southern legislatures, in a nation led by men, both Radical and non-, hell-bent to shape it into Leviathan. Those latter needed government-enforced democracy and the illusion of  “freedom,” and though the Bourbons might have elicited sympathy from their fellow Democrats and even many Scalawags, they garnered little real support among men who, even though they might have disdained Leviathan, were now determined to carry on in an altered state where liberty was now an ephemeral beauty whose time had passed.
[I have yet to narrow down which was which among the Democrats, and I imagine I will find the two groups will polarize significantly during the course of Carpetbag Rule before finally consolidating in the wake of Republican corruption and misrule.]
Doctor Franklin representing Yazoo County, but who was in fact a Carpetbagger from New York, was elected speaker of the Mississippi house. The vote for the Fourteenth Amendment was 24-2 in the senate (twelve Carpetbaggers, five Scalawags, five Negroes, and two Democrats; the two nays were both Democrats. Three Carpetbaggers, one Scalawag, and two Democrats did not cast votes). The house vote for the Fourteenth Amendment was 87-6 (thirty-four Carpetbaggers, thirteen Scalawags, one additional Republican whom I’ve yet to determine if Carpetbagger or Scalawag, twenty-six Negroes, twelve Democrats, and one member who I am unable to determine if he was Republican or Democrat. Five Democrats and one Scalawag opposed the amendment. Six Democrats and seven Republicans did not record a vote. The latter group was composed of six Carpetbaggers and one Negro who were absent, but of the six Democrats who did not cast a vote, only one was absent. The other five simply did not vote. One hundred six legislators sat in the Mississippi house.

The senate vote on the Fifteenth Amendment was 28-0 (twelve Carpetbaggers, six Scalawags, five Negroes, and five Democrats. There were no negative votes, but three Democrats and two Carpetbaggers did not cast votes). The house vote was 92-1 (thirty-four Carpetbaggers, fourteen Scalawags, twenty-six Negroes, and eighteen Democrats).
[The lone nay vote was cast by Democrat J. K. McLeod representing Greene County in south-central Mississippi. Of note, his was one of the six votes against the Fourteenth Amendment. Hmmm...might have our first Bourbon identified here.]
There were 26 Republicans and 7 Democrats in the senate for a total of 33 state senators. Given the number of Democratic votes cast in support of these amendments, readmission to the Union and the end of martial law took precedent over principle. We might also conclude here that in the fall of 1869 the majority of Democrats elected to the legislature were of the New Departure persuasion. The Fourteenth Amendment had been ratified in July of 1868, so was already law, but the Fifteenth wasn’t ratified until 3 February 1870. Mississippi was the twenty-third state to approve (twenty-eight were needed to ratify). Looking at the ratification process for both those amendments, neither would have been ratified without the coercion of the Southern states, which didn’t even have a vote in Congress when those amendments were passed by that tainted assembly.

The state’s ratification of these two egregious changes to the U.S. Constitution fulfilled the demands of Congress and placed the question of Mississippi’s readmission to the new United States in Congress’ hands.

The legislature could not legislate until Congress approved Mississippi’s admission; however, there was one more matter to which it could attend before adjourning. That was the election of Mississippi’s U.S. Senators, one for the full term beginning the following spring (4 March 1871) and two to fill Mississippi’s senatorial seats vacant since Jeff Davis and Albert G. Brown walked away from the U.S. Senate in 1861. Alcorn was elected to fill the full term beginning in March 1871. Of the two unfulfilled terms, one seat had four years remaining on it, the other thirteen months. Adelbert Ames was the predisposed choice to fill the four-year term. He received all the votes in the senate and seventy-two votes in the house, two of which were Democrats. Hmmm...wonder what that bought them? I hope it cost them their next election.

The compromise choice for the shorter-term seat was Adams County senator Hiram Revels, a Negro of mixed blood who had been born free in North Carolina and raised and educated in Indiana. In Reconstruction in Mississippi, James Garner states Revels beat out the favored B. B. Eggleston to fill the term. Y’all remember Eggleston? He was president of the Black and Tan Convention and subsequently headed the Republican ticket defeated by the Democratic-Scalawag coalition led by J. L. Wofford in tandem with the progressive constitution in the summer of 1868. He was the man who accepted the surrender of Atlanta in 1864 and the man from whom Alcorn usurped the Radical party in the state back in the fall of 1869. Eggleston was Butler’s man. Now he was dealt his coup de grace, displaced by a Negro for U. S. senator from Mississippi. The delusion of poetic justice, of course, was (and remains so to this day) at work here, the downtrodden Negro taking Jeff Davis’ seat in the Senate. In fact, Revel’s election to fill the seat is widely regarded as the fulfillment of Davis’ reputed prophecy to Simon Cameron back in 1861 when he supposedly said that in all probability a Negro would be sent to take his place in the Senate. I’ve also heard that it was Cameron who warned Davis of that possibility and not the other way around. There would, in my opinion, be more reason for such sentimentality had an illiterate, ex-slave from Mississippi been elected for the job, but to my mind it is mawkish affectation either way. 

The contemporary Negro representative from Adams County, John Roy Lynch, in The Facts of Reconstruction covertly suggests the powers making up that soon-to-be legislature had already agreed on a Negro filling the short-term seat prior to its opening session on 11 January 1870. Analysis of the house journal, however, suggests the decision that a Negro would fill that seat was one agreed to only by the Negroes and that it was more a determination than a decision. Moreover, when entering the fray, Hiram Revels was not their first choice (nor was he, from what I gather, seeking the job). In fact, the black caucus, shall we say, hadn’t settled on a choice.

On a pragmatic note, what I liked about the subsequent sequence of votes to fill the seat is that the roll-call votes and the manner in which hopefuls were nominated, then supported, has helped me determine who was who among the Republicans in the Mississippi legislature...Carpetbagger or Scalawag.

Hiram Revels next time.

Thanks for reading,


*Though I think I have a good handle on who was a Scalawag and who was a Carpetbagger, there may be a discrepancy here and there. One thing is certain, there were thirty-one Negroes and seventy-eight white Republicans, for a total of 109 Republicans, opposed to thirty Democrats making up the Mississippi legislature in the winter of 1870.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Myths: The Union, The War, and The Lost Cause

This is my second post prompted by the application of the Lost Cause myth to the Newt Knight/Free State of Jones legend recently claimed by some with a political agenda and represents my counter thoughts to those presented  in Victoria Bynam’s The Free State of Jones and Sally Jenkins and Paul Stauffers’ State of Jones. I address the issue in support of my conviction that we Southerners should be reading, writing, and teaching Southern history, not to mention making movies of our own

One who gives credence to Daniel Webster believes the Union predated the states. What, you might ask? Yes, well, that’s what our Southern ancestors thought, too, when they heard that foolishness. But Webster had to do something to debunk the validity of state rights, and that was less violent than what Lincoln did. [Don’t forget, however, that Webster wrote the Force Bill promulgating a federal military attack on South Carolina in 1833. I figure Webster would have approved of Lincoln.]

Now take Webster’s imaginative recast of history in tandem with William T. Sherman’s words in an 1864 missive to a subordinate in Huntsville, Alabama on dealing with Southern “treason” and intransigence against the United States government at whose pleasure the South even existed:

For my part, I believe that this war is the result of false political doctrine, for which we are all as a people responsible, viz: That any and every people has a right to self-government...In this belief, while I assert for our Government the highest military prerogatives, I am willing to bear in patience that political nonsense of...State Rights, freedom of conscience, freedom of press, and other such trash as have deluded the Southern people into war, anarchy, bloodshed, and the foulest crimes that have disgraced any time or any people.

Yeah, old war-is-hell Billy was a true patriot all right—a real supporter and defender of the Constitution. Then there was Charles Sumner’s stated belief “promulgated” during Congressional Reconstruction that the only rights the states had were those Congress blessed them with. Excuse me? Yes, it was Southern intransigence that provoked his revealing himself, but that arrogant, self-righteous traitor to the very concept of the republic was referring to all the states. Then there was Thaddeus Stevens (Pennsylvania), speaking, also during Reconstruction, to defeated Confederate general Richard Taylor (Louisiana), stating that the Constitution needed to be discarded; it was not a fit document to govern the nation. Well, the Radicals didn’t discard the Constitution, they desecrated it instead.

And we in the South didn’t know what we were fighting for against thugs such as those?

Just as a writer of historical fiction justifies her use of an anachronistic word using the yard-stick of a its having been in general usage for twenty years prior to its first appearance in the dictionary, the layman or woman should be forthright enough to consider the political opinions of such men had been floating around for some time before the South threw in the towel and said she’d had enough working with those undermining the basic tenants of our federal system (state sovereignty/limited federal supremacy). Extrapolating, anti-Southern encroachments harkened back to the 1830s—and that’s provable—all a forthright layperson has to do is pick up a history book. Alas, fewer and fewer indulge in such informed opinion now, but I would be willing to bet my Southern ancestors were very aware of this perfidious attitude spawned by self-aggrandizing economics, which required centralization to accomplish and maintain. This is the crop sown by Hamilton, tilled by Henry Clay, and fertilized with American blood by Lincoln’s Republicans. We’re reaping the results now. Next comes plowing under the fallow fields, a wasteland of lost liberty—eclipsing a Lost Cause.

Both Bynum’s work and the Jenkins-Stauffer book on the Newt Knight legend make much ado about the Jones County unionists, particularly Jesse Collins, who I would agree was a unionist—such as he thought a “unionist” was. It’s just my opinion, but what Jesse Collins wanted was the status quo that existed before the South seceded, which he didn’t have once Northern aggression forced an oft-resisted centralization of the Confederate government in its effort to survive invasion.  

Davis had problems with his governors, not just Piney Woods farmers, the latter being a more direct problem for the governors than they were to Richmond. Anyone who has studied the history of this period—or history period—knows this. People at war often balk at the demands of their beleaguered government. The people of the Confederacy sure weren’t the first, and before it was all over, their government was under extreme duress, so, therefore, were its citizens. As a people they remained loyal to their government, particularly when faced with the hated alternative. And rest assured that alternative was hated and rightly so. Those comprising the alternative had just proven how evil they really were and things weren't going to improve for a long, long time. Given the nature of how Southern history is taught these days (or rather not taught), the Bynums, the Jenkinses, the Stauffers, and the Gary Rosses now making up the bulk of mainstream historians/media are taking the opportunity to try and persuade a Southern populace, who they assume to be ignorant until enlightened by them, to piss on their ancestors’ graves. All assumption aside, why would anyone worthy of respect—or whose respect we would aspire to gain—do such a thing? The only people more reprehensible are Southerners who buy off on these pied pipers and actually do it. That’s not to say the acceptance of facts when confronted with incontrovertible evidence should be considered sacrilege. We did lose the war after all, and there are a number of valid reasons for it—but Southern treachery falls too far down the list to be relevant. These subversives, however, would have Southerners believe otherwise. Worse, they portray men, whose feet of clay have long been regarded by Southerners with contempt, as American patriots. Historical studies identifying mistakes and even suggesting blame, where possible, should not be considered disloyalty to the Southern Cause, but critical self-analysis and the study of lessons learned are a good light-year away from sleeping with the enemy. That’s what the mainstream today is demanding Southerners do in order to become true Americans. Count among today’s mainstream many of our own Southern leaders; that is, after all, what they are doing.

In my opinion, Jessie Collins couldn’t see the forest for the trees. On page 49 of their book, Jenkins and Stauffer inserted a ditty:

I’m de po’ folks’ lan’ with my miles of sand,
and my cottonwoods moan and groan,
An’ I’m gonna stay free from hills to the sea and
my forest are all my own.

The authors maintain the ballad supports the regional pride and independence of the poor whites in the region of Jones County and surrounds. I agree. Now tell me how in Hades anyone can deduce loyalty to Lincoln’s Union out of that? What we have today is the absolute last thing those folks would have wanted. If they were here, vice their great-greats...they’d still be in the swamps. What the “federal union” resulting from ratification of the Constitution gave Collins and his neighbors was freedom from government and for seven decades state government stood as a bulwark against federal overreach. Secession—in tandem with all-out war waged against the state(s)—changed that. The interference on the part of the Confederate government, the government Collins forsook, was the direct result of unwarranted war waged against the South. His hatred of the Confederacy [which I suspect had more to do with partisan alignments within his county itself, divided along the lines of those actually working for the government (collecting taxes) and those who were not] probably translated more along the lines of “this wouldn’t have happened if you people hadn’t seceded. Everything would have been fine.” No, it wouldn’t have, but the Jesse Collinses couldn’t see that. Independent, primarily subsistence farmers/grazers, they had been isolated from the conflicting economic interests dividing North and South and the North’s ever-increasing push to marginalize the South’s political power in the central government. The Confederacy, through necessity, had dared to “bother” Jesse Collins, disrupt his life, and interfere with his well-ordered existence, which had been relatively free of governmental presence. The war was the Confederacy’s fault, not Yankee aggression—they’d always left him alone. Bynum, Jenkins, and Stauffer’s implication that those so-called Jones-county unionists would be pleased with Hobbs’ Leviathan of today is misleading and in my personal opinion, false.

Two other implications which run through both books—and this goes hand in hand with the authors’ attempt to marginalize the “Lost Cause”—are that secession equals war and the South opted for war to protect slavery. No, the South risked a war to protect her posterity by that time already threatened economically (the tariff), politically (denial of the formation of slave-holding states in the new territories, exacerbating a situation that was already pivotal and in only a few years would leave the South totally outvoted in the general government, something both sides knew and which the North promoted and the South, for obvious reasons, resisted) and physically (the threat to Southern property, i.e. the underground railroad encouraging theft and the much more ominous threat of terrorism and anarchy which manifested itself in the raid of  John Brown on Harper’s Ferry. That attack was financed by Northern industrialists, philanthropists, and abolitionists who created a martyr of a psychopath while the Northern populace exalted his life and mourned his death. The financiers were never brought to trial, leaving them and those of their ilk free to continue their madness.)

I feel no embarrassment in conceding the South’s agrarian economy was based on slave labor, especially when challenged by those supporting a regime sustained by a seemingly unlimited labor force of hapless immigrants ushered into poverty in filthy Northern cities to serve the masters of industry for a pittance. Really, who has the right to be judging anyone here on the basis of “humanitarianism”? But both perceived wrongs are irrelevant, because secession, no matter the reason, did not cause the war. Lincoln’s aggression did. And here’s the real crux of that second implication—Lincoln waged the war to free the slaves. What hogwash. Lincoln’s war to “free the slaves” is the greatest spin of all. I’d go so far as to call it an out-’n-out cyclone. The refusal of the North, again for self-aggrandizing economic reasons, to accept an independent South with free-market ports, and the more immediate loss of tariff revenue, is what prompted Lincoln’s aggression. It was the North that opted for war, and it did so for economic reasons.

But let’s just suppose those Southerners so long ago really did not know what they were fighting for or believed after times got tough they were fighting for the rich man’s slaves, that the state-rights issue and home rule and curbing the growing tyranny of a central government in the hands of industry never even crossed their poor “stupid” minds—it certainly should be crossing our minds now, because those were the issues that mattered and that’s what the mainstream is trying to deflect. If we don’t do something to reclaim our history, in fifty years all our Southern ancestors will have been opposed to the Confederacy—there will be nothing left spearheading those old battles, but evil slave owners, and the federal republic created by our founders will be a forgotten political theory swallowed up by a fabricated democracy embracing the concept of a worldwide, “elitist-supervised,” mediocre humanity. (The lowest common denominator is the only way to make egalitarianism work). 

Next time, a documented history of Jones County from another point of view.

Thanks for reading,